Inside Briolette Beads & More, hardwood floors and walls lined with multicolored glass beads and beading supplies envelop customers perusing DIY materials or embarking on jewelry-making classes. Under the tutelage of experienced teachers, hands-on sessions abound, from metal smithing to stringing to wire working—in which students twist government surveillance materials into rings and pendants. The brightly hued party room's](http://gr.pn/w7ZafC) neon-green walls are decked in a vibrantly painted peacock and flowers, inspiring revelers as they fashion myriad beaded items, and Thursday evenings boast crafty diva night, during which participants can finish new or existing projects in the company of other crafters.
The experts at Wine Discount Center taste wine like it’s their job—because it is, actually. Every month, they taste hundreds of wines, assessing each one’s color, aroma, flavor, body, knowledge of American history, and finish in the same manner that the critics of Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate use to grade wines on their 100-point scales. This never-ending sampling and scoring lets Wine Discount Center’s team continually update and hone the selection at each location, regularly announcing new finds on the company's website and ensuring each bottle it stocks is worthy of 85 points or more. The oenophiles further enhance guests’ enjoyment of their wines by leading in-store tastings every Saturday at noon.
Deedee & Edee's private label begins at trade shows and markets, where designer Deb Dworman pores over fabrics to find the perfect one for a contemporary piece. Though her jackets, dresses, skirts, and tops skew modern, they each exude a vintage style that can flatter any female frame. In addition to its namesake label, Deedee & Edee stocks other high-end brands such as ANAC, Christopher Blue, and Lilla P.
All big movements start small, but many would be surprised to learn that Ten Thousand Villages—a nonprofit and retailer with 390 outlets nationwide—began out of a car trunk. In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler started the organization out of her car, taking a name from a quote by Mohandas Gandhi, who said, “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.” Her willpower and determination allowed her vision to grow into a nonprofit that today supports more than 130 artisans in 38 developing countries. These artisans' wares go on sale at the organization's nationwide retail outlets, which brim with items including jewelry, home decor, and refrigerator cozies.
Everything is made using environmentally friendly processes, and every artisan is paid a fair wage. The money raised from sales goes to supply the artisans—who might otherwise be unemployed or underemployed—with education, food, housing, and healthcare. The organization has risen to such stature that it won the People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year in 2005, and has acted as one of the founding members of the World Fair Trade Organization.
Mike Semerau and the instructors at Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons have a trick up their sleeve. In addition to in-person tutelage, they provide professional pre-recorded take-home videos of proper drumming techniques for students to refer to while practicing. This kind of constant visualization and repetitive watching is what the instructors claim makes their students so successful as they drill new techniques such as double bass, ostinatos, and stick control. During lessons, teachers also cover subjects such as soloing, learning a student?s favorite song, creating original beats and fills, and teaching yourself. Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons has a play-along machine stacked with more than 1,000 songs, all of which have no drum track so that students can provide their own percussion and experience the sensation of playing and keeping time with other instruments.
In 1962, Val Camilletti began working at Capitol Records, which was ushering in a new era of music, led by The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Ten years later, she opened her own retail record shop, which has spent 40 years distributing eclectic sounds to listeners who, Val says, "are tired of shopping for music in refrigerator stores."
At Val's, you'll find vinyl records lined up in tidy rows and rock posters on the walls. Its expansive, rotating stock features several musical genres and spotlights burgeoning local artists. Knowledgeable staff can also help customers hunt down rare issues, imports, or B-sides. If a record is not in the store inventory, Val's can order it within 24 to 48 hours, depending on how fast they can wake up Keith Richards.